Month: November 2014

Day 1

photo[16]Well, we headed off a little later than hoped accompanied by a friend, Arend to the harbour limits. No soon had he left us and the wind picked up and we had to slog through a squall of rain into Campell’s Bay on the North Shore.
Then up to Long Bay and Vaughan Park. Nearly in time for Mass, but we were wet and cold already. Johan, the chef there patched up my cut finger – I had tripped coming up the beach and we had a cuppa tea.
Then off towards the Tiritiri Channel. The wind was a comfortable 25 knots in the gusts and we had to reassess things. We ended up cutting the corner at Shakspear Bay and port aged the kayaks over to Army Bay. It turned out to be its own ordeal. Kayaks were very heavy even though we unloaded stuff and carried it 200 meters at a time. A guy in truck rescued us about 400 meters from the end and I was mighty grateful.
30 – 35 knot gusts were on the weather forecast and they kept us on land for the best part of the afternoon. Waiting.
A final hour and a half of paddling until 6;30. Rain and squalls again. Twelve hours after we started and somewhat humbled by the weather I think we are both a bit spent.

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a pilgrimage

st jamesOn Advent Sunday I am setting out in my sea kayak from Mission Bay in Auckland to paddle to Oihi in the Bay of Islands. Oihi is the place where Samuel Marsden arrived, at the invitation of the Maori Chief, Ruatara. There he first preached the Gospel 200 years ago on Christmas Day, 1814.

The basic idea behind this journey is that it my version of a hikoi to the Marsden Cross. In the last year as I have reflected on the early history of our church in this land I have been impressed with the fact that early missionaries and bishops travelled mostly by sea. Some of them were wonderfully intrepid and brave. It is also true that many of our early churches sit on waterways because that was the way folk travelled back then.

So, rather than go for a journey by land I have decided to go by sea. The trip is about 250 km and will be testing for a number of reasons. The biggest variable is going to be the weather. If all goes well the biggest challenge is going to be water followed by food (and dare I say it, power to charge the mobile phone so I can stay in touch!). I have allowed eight days for the trip. If I don’t get there by then, well …

Philae – sleeper awake

The Lord Almighty grant us a peaceful night and a perfect end.  Amen.

I feel strangely very sorry that the Rosetta lander, Philae, has run out of battery gone offline and is taking a long nap. She may never wake. (She?)

I don’t fully understand why I am sorry as I am and, if I am honest, even a little sad. Some of it is the disappointment I feel is for the team that designed, launched, and landed Philae. They were so excited and their excitement was infectious. I imagine they may now be equally downcast. The champagne has lost all the fizz and turned vinegar.

I think one thing that I feel sad about is the dashed hope that the feat gave rise to in me. The very idea that Rosetta could ‘slingshot’ three times around the earth in order to gather enough speed to go far enough and then go all that way and with such accuracy and find a speck of rock that only had a few letters to name it… All that seems just extraordinary. Wow!

I had this extraordinary feat in the back of my mind as I sat with someone in Auckland Hospital this past week as they talked with a Cardiac Consultant. There was this Consultant trying to do his work. There was this patient who had waited seven months and three rescheduled appointments for the appointment. The Consultant could not access the medical records because the computers were not working properly. He spoke form memory of reading the records but couldn’t offer any real comment or diagnosis or anything. Because “the system was down.” I said to myself, ‘But if Philae can land, this is absurd!’ It was hard not to feel a little angry.

It should be possible for our hospitals to have working computers, and, … the list goes on for ACC and other government departments to manage private information, and you can add to the list. On a global scale, it should be possible for us to respond more adequately to Ebola or HIV/AIDS. These issues are way less problematic than Rosetta’s mission!

Philae showed me at least what is possible if humans put their minds to big big technical problems. I was delighted that the team that had worked for so long had succeeded. It gave me reason to hope that, if we turned our minds to problems here on earth, problems that dog us that appear to be just about resources and application, we could, indeed we will, succeed. Philae was, for a few days, a spit in the eye to so many apparently unnecessary absurdities in this world.

I still think we can do better. And I do hope Philae wakes from her sleep and sends back some more data.